How do you get unchurched people into your church?
Despite all the high-tech and expensive advertising methods available today, one method remains the most effective way to get new people to come to your and that is a personal invitation. Your members inviting their friends to church beats any advertising campaign at any cost.
While it is sometimes sadly true that once someone becomes converted, they soon have few friends who are not believers, no one totally withdraws from the world. Most people still work at secular jobs. Everyone has many contacts a week with people in the business community: the waitress or waiter at the coffee shop, the Starbucks employees, the clerks at various stores, the person standing next to them in lines at the grocery store, airports, or the driver’s license bureau, the person sitting next to them on the bus or subway.
These brief moments are often filled with casual chatter, but that casual chatter could redirect an eternity with a simple statement such as this….. “Yes, I agree our world is a mess today, but you know, this week we’ve having a Saturday night discussion (or a Sunday talk, or a Wednesday soup and classes or whatever) and our topic is ‘How to be at peace in an unpeaceful world—love to have you come.”
What happens next is incredibly important, because what moves that encounter from a pleasant, momentary conversation to a potentially life-changing connection is a an invitation card.
An invitation card is simply a business card you have created with your church’s information on it: location, meeting times, map if necessary AND most important of all these days, your website, email, and social media links.
Business, invitation cards are simple to create
You’ve got the technology in your church to do it with many programs including MS Word, MS Publisher and any of the higher end graphic design programs. The program you use or the complexity of the design is not important, what is important is that they provide a very nonthreatening link to more information about your church and Jesus.
These cards do this for two reasons: one, because they give people the specifics of time, location, address, etc. to actually get to your church event. Without these vital details a nice verbal invitation is easily forgotten no matter how appealing it seems at first. The invited guest may not come the first week you ask them, but if they are lonely or sad or curious weeks later, if they have the tangible information on an invitation card they can find it and respond.
Second, because the card provides a link to your website. In our world today, when we want to check out anything from a national car company to the latest movies, to airline prices and restaurant reviews—we check out the website. Social media links are helpful, but for someone wanting to understand what a church is all about, a complete, updated website is essential.
Websites are useful for church outreach because they allow the viewer to not be pressured, to maintain their distance, and yet explore a product or service (in this case, your church) without commitment.
Of course to be useful to a curious, exploring, unchurched person, your website must have more on it than a list of service times. If you are actively giving your people invitation cards with the intention of driving lots of unchurched people to your website, this should be a great motivation for you to reevaluate your website and make sure it has on it information that is complete, up-to-date, and in language understandable to an unchurched person.
In addition, your website should contain invitations to specific ongoing events of interest to an unchurched person, answers to their questions, and an email connection for more information or questions. From the basics on your website you can get as complex and innovative as you want with links to blogs, podcasts, on-line discussions, email newsletters, videos, music, whatever your church creates to share the good news about Jesus and the ministries of your church.
To evaluate if your website is doing this, have an unchurched friend look at your website and social media and ask them something like this, "If you had a friend who didn't go to church, how do you think coming to this website would make them feel?" Of course they will tell you what they think about it, but putting the question this way is much less threatening than asking them directly, "Do you think our website is helpful?"
Then ask, "What do you think would help make your friend feel more welcome?" "What could we explain better?"
If you are feeling particularly brave, you might ask, "What do you think your friend would know about God from the website?"
If your friend answers something like, "God? I don't see anything about God on the website—it's all about the church" you might need to work on more than making sure your schedule for small groups is kept up-to-date.
The website can provide a reality check on the effectiveness of your invitation card outreach
The statistics from your web provider should give you a good idea of how effective your invitation card outreach is. Try this: make up enough cards for every person in your congregation to have 10 of them; you can freely make up any of the cards at this link: https://wp.me/pDky9-5Aa
Challenge your people to give all of them out in the coming weeks and then monitor your web statistics to see what happens. Record the hits on your website and attendance at your event and if possible find out how people learned about it.
More than a invitation, a discipleship training tool
In addition to being a great tool to invite people when you make up these cards and give them out to your people, creating invitation cards and giving them out to your congregation with encouragement to pass them out provides training for your congregation in outreach and evangelism. Far too many church members think it is the pastor’s job or the music ministry or the advertising budget that is supposed to get new people into the church, when in reality it is everyone’s job.
When you create cards like these and encourage your people to pray for opportunities to give them out, you are equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry.
Always have cards like these available for your church or ministry overall; make up special ones for special events and holidays. On a regular basis mention how you use the card, interview people and share stories of how your people have used them and you’ll find you will create a church culture where everyone is involved in inviting people to come to your church and experience new life in Jesus.
One last thing............
Doing up business cards is just plain fun!
They don’t take long and if you do them up and print them up in-house or if you are doing large quantities, you can use an online printer.
You can use them to test out logos, test out ministry ideas, PR ideas, whatever.
They are one of the most inexpensive ways to advertise seasonal events or sermon series and have the added benefit of training your people in outreach.
Don’t take them too seriously and don’t obsess over them, you can always do up another one if the first try doesn’t work.
Open up that MS Publisher template, or whatever your software program of choice, and get busy!
Here is the link to FREE MS Publisher Templates for church invitation and business cards: https://wp.me/pDky9-5Aa